Mussolini and Fascist Italy.

Essay by sxgal February 2004

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Q)In what ways did violence and intimidation contribute to the success of Fascism in the years 1919-25?


Violence and intimidation were most certainly used within the Fascist regime during 1919-25 in many different ways, for example propaganda was used as a form of intimidation, persuading the Italian people to join Fascism, Mussolini doing this by emphasising all the problems that the country was faced with after the First World War, making them feel that the only way forward was by joining the regime. Although, as will be illustrated, this is not the only way in which violence and intimidation contributed to the success of Fascism.

In 1920 the PSI had won the elections to many town councils and therefore controlled local taxes and services. Italy had been swept by a series of strikes and many politicians and members of the elite thought that the country was close to a socialist revolution during the 'Biennio Rosso' ('Two Red Years') of 1919-20.

The 'Biennio Rosso' was important, as it can be argued that Italian Socialists played a major role in the success of their bitter enemies, whom were the Fascists. The threat of a Socialist revolution drove many of the elite to support Fascism, and the Socialists' weakness helped the Fascists come to power and succeed. An attempted general strike in August 1922, in protest against Fascist violence had fizzled out after twenty-four hours, partly down to the Fascists themselves. The PSI had talked over revolution but did not have a strategy for achieving it. The party proved to be incapable of carrying out either reform or revolution. Workers had become disillusioned after the 'Biennio Rosso'. However, the whole period had created a traumatic fear of 'Bolshevism' among groups who had most to fear from it. This situation was to be...